A source with the Queens Republican Party confirmed to Pol Position last week that Vickie Paladino is considering a challenge to State Senator Tony Avella, running on the GOP line in the November general election.
Paladino has already filed paperwork with the state and is currently exploring fundraising opportunities to see if a viable campaign is possible.
“We're in the exploratory stage right now,” the spokesperson said. “If we decide to move forward, we'll be making a formal announcement in the spring.”
Paladino made headlines of her own in July when she confronted Mayor Bill de Blasio while Hizzoner was in Whitestone to announce new funding to fix city sidewalks damaged by tree roots.
Paladino and her husband happened to drive by as the press conference was taking place, and she ordered him to stop the car.
Paladino got out and berated the mayor for his decision earlier that month to to attend a protest rally in Germany, while the city was still dealing with the death of Detective Miosotis Familia, who was killed in the line of duty.
The mother of three was killed on July 5 during a midnight tour. She was sitting in an NYPD mobile command vehicle when she was randomly shot by cop-hating gunman Alexander Bonds.
De Blasio was at the officer's funeral, but was roundly criticized for making the trip overseas to deliver the keynote speech at a protest rally during the G20 summit in Hamburg.
He was still being criticized later the month when Paladino confronted him.
“I don’t care about the trees,” she was caught on video yelling at the mayor. “Pay your police officers and stop spending it on money to go protest against our country.”
De Blasio did not handle the criticism well. He quickly had his security detail usher him into his waiting SUV and ferry him back to the friendly confines of City Hall.
Shortly after the confrontation, Paladino was interview by Marcia Kramer for CBS2 News and asked if she would ever consider running for mayor. “Absolutely,” she replied without hesitation.
Well, it seems that Paladino has decided to set her sights on a local office before attempting a citywide run.
Avella was first elected to the state senate in 2010, defeating longtime Republican incumbent Frank Padavan. Prior to that, he served eight years in the City Council. He has also twice ran for mayor.
While never one to tow the party line, per se, Avella officially angered fellow Democrats in 2014 when he decided to join the breakaway Independent Democratic Conference, a group of state senators who enjoy a power-sharing agreement with Republicans.
While Avella argues that the arrangement allows him to get more done for his constituents, critics say the breakaway Democrats allow the Republicans to stall progressive legislation on issues important to them, such as immigration and women's rights.
In an interview over the summer with this paper, Congressman Joseph Crowley, the chairman of the Queens Democratic Party, had strong words for State Senator Jose Peralta, another Queens elected official who joined the IDC.
In no uncertain terms, Crowley viewed the move as a betrayal of the voters and Democratic values.
Now Peralta faces a challenge from another Democrat in the primary in the form of Jessica Ramos, a former aide to de Blasio.
Which leads some to speculate that Avella might not only face a challenge from the Republicans in the form of Paladino, but from a Democrat as well in the September primary.
In 2014, the Democratic Party coaxed John Liu, the former Flushing councilman and city comptroller, into challenge Avella. A formidable foe, Liu eventually lost by about 600 votes.
Liu was popular on the edges of the district, but lost decidedly in the neighborhoods of Whitestone, Bayside, Little Neck and Douglaston, which make up the heart of the district and where Avella enjoys considerable support despited his reputation as a political outsider – or maybe because of it.
If Paladino does decide to run and hopes to have a chance in November, those are the neighborhoods she'll have to carry.